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The Center of Excellence for Food Safety funded by USDA NIFA CAPS program is committed to support food companies in adopting advanced processing and packaging solutions to production and delivery of nutritious, safe, high-quality and nutritious prepared food and ready-to-eat (RTE) meals. The purpose of this symposium is to provide a platform for direct dialogs among academia, the food industry, regulatory agencies and venture capitals on challenges and opportunities to develop, produce and deliver prepared food and RTE meals through retail markets and e-commerce. The symposium will also provide an overview on the latest advancements in processing and package technologies for commercial production of shelf-stable and chilled meals. It will summarize major outcomes of Center research activities related to nutrition, shelf-life, microbial safety, and consumer perception of RTE meals. The end goal is to facilitate close collaborations among the participating institutions and companies in developing effective and suitable solutions for production and delivery of safe, high quality and nutritious RTE meals to consumers.


Day 1 – Welcome, Introduction of Center of Excellence for Food Safety (8:15 – 8:40 am) WSU Administrators & Hongda Chen, USDA NIFA

Dr. Hongda Chen is the National Program Leader for Bioprocess Engineering and Nanotechnology at National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA. He provides national leadership to develop nanoscale science, engineering, and technology for agriculture and food systems, and provides national leadership in engineering approaches for research, development, education and extension in food quality, safety and nutritional value. Currently, he directs Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies in the Food Safety Challenge programs; and Nanotechnology for Agriculture and Food Systems in the Foundation programs of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – the flagship of NIFA’s competitive grants program.


Session A (8:40 – 10:20 AM)

Juming Tang and Larry Keener (Chairs)

A.1 – Keynote 1 – Eddie Yoon, Growth Strategist (Food Market Trends).

Eddie Yoon is the founder of EddieWouldGrow, LLC, a think tank and advisory firm on growth strategy. Previously he was one of the senior partners at The Cambridge Group, a strategy consulting firm. His work over the past two decades has driven over $8 billion dollars of annual incremental revenue. In particular, 8 of his clients have doubled or tripled in revenue in less than 8 years. Eddie is one of the world’s leading experts on finding and monetizing superconsumers to grow and create new categories.


A.2 – Keynote 2 – Elizabeth Aparico, PhD, Hartman Group (Food Market Trends).

Elizabeth Aparicio, is an ethnographic analyst with The Hartman Group, a consumer research and consultancy focused on the food and beverage marketplace and a recognized thought leader on demand-side trends in the food industry for over 30 years. Elizabeth brings a strong academic background in food, beverages, sustainability and local food systems to The Hartman Group’s study of food culture. She is also a doctoral candidate in Applied Cultural Anthropology at the University of South Florida.

A.3 – Business cases Panel

Panelists from small companies (Suji Park from Suji’s Korean Cuisine, Diane Wetherington from iFood Decision Sciences, start-ups, and venture capitalists). Challenges and opportunities for production and distribution of ready-to-eat meals.

Session B (11:10 AM – 12:30 pm PM)

 Pablo Monsivais (Chair)

Jennifer OttenB.1 – Jennifer Otten, University of Washington Center for Public Health and Nutrition. (Food Systems and Human Nutrition).

Jennifer J. Otten, Ph.D., R.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Food Systems Director in the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington (UW) School of Public Health. Her research focus is on understanding, changing, and evaluating food systems and food systems policies as they relate to public health and nutrition outcomes. Between 1998-2006, Dr. Otten served in various capacities for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, including as a study director and the organization’s first communications director. Dr. Otten received her B.S. in nutritional sciences from Texas A&M University, her M.S. in nutrition communications from Tufts University, and her animal, nutrition, and food sciences from the University of Vermont.


B.2 – Doris Helen D’Souza, University of Tennessee. (Concerns of Viruses in Food Systems).

Dr. D-Souza’s research focuses on thermal and non-thermal processing (ultraviolet light, ultrasound, chlorine dioxide gas, ozonated water, ozone, value-added plant extracts and plant polyphenols) approaches to inactivate foodborne viruses (hepatitis A virus, human noroviruses and Aichi virus) and foodborne bacterial pathogens in foods and the food environment to prevent foodborne outbreaks and the spread of antimicrobial resistance, and to enhance food safety.


B.3 – Business cases Panel

Susan McBride, MS, RD, Harborview/UWMC, Paul Haul, VP of Food Safety and Quality (Flying Foods) and Ben Atkinson, MS, RD (Food services director, Auburn School District). Opportunities and challenges for healthcare, airlines and school systems.

Session C (1:30 PM – 3:20 PM) – Larry Keener, Hongda Chen – USDA-NIFA and Doris D’Souza (Chairs)

Larry Keener, Hongda Chen and Doris D’Souza (Chairs)

C.1 – Errol Raghubeer, JBT HPP Technologies (HPP for ready-to-eat meals)

Errol Raghubeer began exploring new food processing technologies in the late 1980’s in collaboration with the US Army, Flow International Corporation, food companies and Universities in the United States and Europe. In 1999, Errol joined Flow International/Avure (now JBTC – AVURE) with the focus of transferring the technology from research to commercial applications and getting global regulatory recognition and approval. These efforts led to the US FDA recognition of HPP as a 5-log pathogen reduction process for fruit juices in 1999, Health Canada’s approval for apple sauce and apple-based products, and in 2003 by the USDA as a process to control Listeria in RTE meat plants. Similarly, in collaborative work with FDA Seafood in Dauphin Island, AL FDA Seattle and Oregon State Seafood Laboratory led to the approval of HPP for decontamination of Vibrio bacteria in oysters. He works with customers, research institutions, global regulatory agencies in the validation of HPP to ensure food safety and extension of shelf-life and quality of preservative-free foods and beverages. Errol spends most of his time working with JBT-AVURE global customers in providing solutions to product formulation and processes, packaging, HACCP, regulatory issues, and new product development for HPP applications. Errol graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a B.S. degree in Fishery Sciences and Food Technology, M.S. in Food Science and a Doctorate in Food Microbiology.


C.2 – Juming Tang, WSU. Overview and update on MATS and MAPS research, Center of Excellence for Food Safety.

Juming Tang’s work is in the Food Engineering Emphasis Area. He holds several patents and numerous awards and honors for his research into Microwave Pasteurization, Microwave Sterilization of food, and Low Moisture Food Safety. He is currently the principal investigator of a multi-institutional team represented by members of industry, academia, and government investigating engineering solutions to ensure microbial safety of frozen and refrigerated meals in retail markets. He is also director of the Microwave Sterilization Consortium, again represented by members of industry, academia, and government that was awarded the first ever industrial microwave sterilization process approval from the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

C.2 – 915 Labs/ TATA/Smart Foodz. Commercial Activities – Commercial MATS and MAPS systems, production experiences.

MATS and MAPS food processing systems are available exclusively through 915 Labs. The company sells and leases both a pilot-scale system and commercial production systems and packaging solutions. All MATS systems perform both sterilization (MATS) and pasteurization (MAPS).


Tata SmartFoodz Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Industries Limited, is engaged in the business of manufacturing, dealing in and carrying on the trading in all types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food products under the brand Tata Q.


C.3 – Roger Stanley, University of Tasmania and Australia Defense Food Lab. Perspectives from Australia, market needs for ready-to-eat meals.

Professor Roger Stanley is Foundation Director of the Centre for Food Innovation (CFI) based at Launceston. He also works as a joint appointment with Defence at the DSTG Food and Nutrition Research laboratory, Scottsdale and links local research to the national CSIRO food research network. His research focus is on value addition to primary produce such as by shelf life extension and the development of improved nutritional and performance (functional) foods.


C.4 – Karina Gallardo, WSU. Nutrition and Consumer Studies (Highlighting results in the posters).

Dr. Gallardo’s research focuses on 3 areas of interest: Consumer demand for food products; adoption of new technologies; and tree fruit economics. Gallardo’s primary research and outreach program goal is to enhance value-added agribusiness opportunities for specialty crops in the state of Washington. As such, her areas of research are focused on consumer demand analysis and economics of technological change.


Carolyn RossC.4 – Carolyn Ross, WSU. Nutrition and Consumer Studies (Highlighting results in the posters).

Carolyn Ross is a Professor in the School of Food Science at Washington State University (WSU) and Affiliate Professor in the WSU School of Medicine. She earned her BSc. in foods and nutrition from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, her M.Sc. from the University of Guelph in food science, and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in food science/environmental toxicology. The overall objectives of Dr. Ross’ research and graduate education program are to understand the theoretical basis underpinning the sensory perception of foods and wines and correlate these psychophysical attributes with quantifiable characteristics. Since starting at Washington State University in 2004, Dr. Ross has established her lab and the WSU Sensory Evaluation Facility as a center for graduate student training in the areas of sensory science and analytical chemistry. Through this research, Dr. Ross has published over 105 scientific research articles, with over 120 presentations at national and international scientific meetings.


C.5 – Shyam Sablani, WSU. Packaging for MATS, MAPS and HPP (Highlighting results in the posters).

Dr. Sablani’s food packaging and food processing research program is built around the applications of materials science with aims to develop innovative packaging solutions and improve the safety and quality of foods. His primary research emphasis areas include: Polymeric packaging for advanced food technologies; Microencapsulation and physicochemical stability; Food Freezing and physicochemical stability; Engineering nanoparticle interactions with plant surfaces; UV-C light inactivation of pathogens on fruit and packaged food surfaces.

Session D (3:20 PM – 4:00 PM) – Larry Keener – Chair

Larry Keener (Chair)

D – Regulations Panel

Larry Keener, Kenny Lum (Trident), Subba Rao Gurram (Seafood Products Association) – Food Safety regulations related to commercial production and delivery of ready-to-eat meals for retails and e-commerce.

Day 2 – Session E (8:00 – 9:30 AM) – Larry Keener and Shyam Sablani (Chairs)

Larry Keener and Shyam Sablani (Chairs)


E.1 – Keynote 3 – Yash Burgula, Continental Foods (Drivers for Innovation, case studies).

Yash Burgula is the Director of R&D Technology for Continental Mills (CM) in Seattle, WA. CM is a family owned business founded in Seattle, Washington in 1932 that manufactures a complete portfolio of Baking mixes and Snack mixes under the Krusteaz and Wild Roots brands among other fine brands. Yash joined CM in 2015.

Yash is creative Food Scientist and Technical Brand Manager that has worked in the Food Industry 20 years in a variety of New Product Development (NPD) roles – with diverse products such as Breakfast cereal, Beverage Mix, Frozen Snacks, Frozen Meals, Ketchup, Condiments, Sauces, Snack and Trail Mixes, and Bake Mixes – within the R&D function for global companies such as Glaxo Smith Kline, Heinz, and General Mills. In his current role with Continental Mills, Yash leads the Ingredients Innovation and Technology function within R&D. His research group is focused on new ingredients and process technology identification, evaluation, and qualification, open innovation and technology scouting in support of long-term innovation pipeline building at CM.  

Yash with his team also balance the fuzzy front end NPD process, identifying new product ideas and refining them using consumer insights, creating concepts with culinary insights, integrating new ingredients and/or processing functionalities, and executing new product commercialization activities. Yash has a MS in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and PhD in Food Science from Purdue University


E.2 – Keynote 4 – William Watts, Walmart (Walmart food safety supply chain).

William Watts is the Senior Director of Walmart’s Food Safety Collaboration Center. He lives in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. He is an experienced professional in government relations, international business, and business technology. Watts is currently responsible for government engagement and building strategic partnerships with others in industry, academia, and research for the WFSCC. Watts focuses on strategic food safety programs and, in particular, concentrates on innovation and technology in food quality and agriculture. Before joining Walmart, Mr. Watts served as an Economic Officer in the U.S. Department of State and was a business technology consultant with Fortune 500 firm Accenture.


E.3 – Packaging Panel

Panelists from packaging and food companies, US Army Natick Soldier Center, Mitsubishi, Kuraray. Challenges and suitability related to packaging of ready-to-eat meals.

Session F (9:30 AM – 10:10 AM)

F – Technologies and distribution logistics for small and large business Panel

Panelists from equipment companies, JBT, 915 Labs. Challenges and opportunities for ready-to-eat meals.

Session G (10:30 AM – 11:15 AM)

G – General Panel

Panelists from large food companies and supply chains – Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Nestle, Tridents, Starbucks. Commercial challenges and opportunities in distribution of ready-to-eat meals for retail markets and through e-commerce.

Summary (11:15 AM – 12:00 PM)

Denis Gray (Chair)


Denis Gray


Take home messages, future collaborations, center concept?

Denis Gray, PhD, is Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University. He also serves as the co-chair of the Distinguished Scientific Advisory Board for Oak Ridge Institute for Research and Education. Dr. Gray’s research focuses on science and technology policy issues, particularly the outcomes and implications of cooperative research. Dr. Gray has published extensively on academic science and cooperative research. His books include: Cooperative Research Centers and Technical Innovation: Innovation U.: New university roles in a knowledge economy (co-author), Managing the industry/university cooperative research center (senior editor) and Technological innovation: Strategies for a new partnership (senior editor). His current research includes evaluation of USDA NIFA centers (including Center of Excellence for Food Safety at WSU).